So you run your own coaching business. That’s great!
But whether you’re a new coach with just a handful of clients or one that’s had hundreds of hours of coaching sessions under their belt, running successful sessions is always a priority.
After all, as a coach, your ability to run transformational coaching sessions time and time again is what sets you apart from the multitude out there in the market today.
And every time you deliver a life-changing coaching session to a client, you can rest assured that they will spread the word about your business. That’s the most important thing. Because irrespective of the number of ways you are marketing yourself, word of mouth is, and will always be the most powerful way to build a successful coaching practice.
This means, in this ever-connected world of the internet, social media and a plethora of messaging apps, referrals are still the most reliable way to create an ever-growing following of people who believe in your ability to transform your lives.
But as I mentioned earlier, the crux of this lies in your ability to constantly deliver coaching sessions that will establish your reputation as a transformational coach.
How do you ensure every coaching session is as powerful as the next?
I’m glad you asked because that’s exactly what I want to talk to you about today.
With all the coaches I’ve spoken with over the years, I have been able to narrow down on a few key points that make them successful. These, I believe, will help you tailor and offer effective One-on-One Coaching Sessions that will set you apart from the rest.
So without any further ado, let’s dive straight into it, shall we?
What Are The Hallmarks Of An Effective One-on-one Coaching Session?
No matter what your area of coaching, a structured approach is critical to the learning process. This means, by adhering to a framework of core coaching elements, you will be able to deliver exceptional outcomes time and time again, to every client.
So what are these key elements that make a One-on-One coaching session effective?
Let me take you through them.
1. Ask the right questions
When taking One-on-One Coaching sessions, preparation is key. Because only with good planning will you be able to establish proper learning outcomes.
But planning is also the most challenging part for any coach.
Before a session, it is important to ask yourself a few questions to prepare yourself for what’s to come. So questions like, “Who is my client?”, “What is appropriate for them”, or even “What am I going to do in the session?” are all important in creating a clear learning path in your own mind before you even meet the client.
By planning your sessions, you will ensure that you have a solid foundation as you engage with your client and work towards keeping them active and engaged.
2. Set clear goals
The start of every coaching relationship lays the foundation for the middle and the end. It gives you and your client a chance to establish what both of you will work towards in your sessions, and the tone for what’s to follow.
Additionally, an interesting first session means you will have your client’s undivided attention right from the start, creating a more involved coach-client relationship.
It is important that you ask as many questions as you can to establish clear learning objectives in your client’s mind so they know exactly what they’re working towards before they even get started.
It won’t just help them better understand themselves and their needs, but will also provide more insightful feedback when you ask your clients to reflect on previous sessions. The idea here is to slowly get your client to acclimatize themselves with you coaching style and get more comfortable with it so they can benefit from what you have to offer.
3. Create a positive learning environment
Creating a positive coaching environment right from the get-go is another core element of the makeup of a great One-on-One Coaching session.
It is important not to overstretch a client by setting goals that are beyond their capabilities, even if the client believes that is what they want. As a coach, it is your responsibility to break down goals that might seem achievable to small goals that are easily within reach.
And by recognizing your client’s successes as they reach each of these smaller goals, you will keep them motivated as they move towards the higher goal they truly wanted to achieve.
But to do this effectively, you need to dig deep and realize your client’s individual abilities and aspirations. Only then will you understand what they need, and the environment that will be best suited to help them achieve their goals.
4. Keep learning
As a coach, learning never ends. But it is more than just becoming an expert in EVERY field – because that is literally impossible Instead, it is more important to constantly add to and evolve your understanding of the process of learning and how your individual clients react to it.
This means, learning how to get your message across effectively should be your first priority. Because every client is different, they will all pick up what you have to offer at different rates. But that’s okay.
Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. And even if your clients don’t get things straight away, by tweaking your methods and finding the best way to get to them, they will get there sooner or later.
And that’s what matters – getting there. How much time it takes is inconsequential.
4. One-on-One Coaching Strategies You Can Use Right Away
As I mentioned earlier, the more effective your coaching sessions, the more successful your coaching business will be. And if you know where to start, delivering an unforgettable coaching session is easier than you think.
Especially if you use these strategies that I am going to talk about.
1. Set outcomes early
Before you begin a session is important to set outcomes right at the beginning. This can be as simple as asking your client what they want to work on today. This serves a dual purpose.
One, your client will feel involved in the process and will respond better to your sessions as it goes along.
Two, it will help both you and your client track improvements, achievements and results over time.
2. Keep the energy going
The one thing that common across every field of coaching is that a truly transformational coaching session needs a high level of energy, both from you and your client.
This means, keeping track of your client’s energy and focus levels as the session goes by is of utmost importance if you want the session to be effective.
But what if you notice your client’s energy levels falling or their concentration slipping?
Here’s a little trick called “pattern interruption” that is quite helpful in such situations. This is basically a Neuro Linguistic Programming tool that helps refocus the mind. It can be anything you say or do that creates a disruption that’s needed to refresh and refocus a client’s attention.
You could make an unexpected joke, or rely of physical movements such as clapping or jumping. Anything that will momentarily distract your client and allow you to help them bring their energy and focus levels back to what’s needed for an effective coaching session.
3. Bring down obstacles
As a coach, you know that your job is to help your clients recognize the steps they need to take to achieve their goals. However, it is important to help them address any obstacles that they feel may be in their way.
So in every session, you will need to spend some time with your client to try and understand these obstacles, whether real or perceived, that stand in the way of their happiness.
Sit with your client and identify any obstacle or challenge that they feel might be ahead of them, and create a plan on how you can both tackle them together. Because these are what will hold your client back as they go for their goals.
And by identifying and planning for these obstacles, you will be able to give your clients the tools they need to overcome any resistance they might encounter as they try to better their lives.
4. Tie everything together
At the end of every session, it is important to go through everything you’ve discussed and created an actionable plan that your client needs to follow to achieve their goals.
This requires your client to identify important takeaways from each session, and then come up with goals they will achieve before the next session. This won’t just create a sense of continuity as your sessions go along, but will also create accountability on behalf of your client to work towards their goal.
5 Steps for a Successful One-on-One Coaching Session
Step 1: Identify a goal
Before you start a session, it is essential that you realize that most of the work is done before or after a coaching session. During a session, it is more about breaking down barriers and understanding what makes your client tick.
That’s why, no matter what skill or behaviour you want your client to adopt, the most important part of your coaching session is to have a clear goal of what you’re trying to achieve.
And as a rule of thumb, if you cannot clearly state your goal in a simple manner, you may be trying to achieve too much in a single coaching session.
Step 2: Focus on the positive
By this, I don’t mean turn a blind eye to whatever negative behaviours or aspects of your client’s life.
I mean put a positive spin on what your client has been trying to achieve so far. Compliment them on what they’ve done, what they’ve achieved. You’re there to guide, not nag.
So avoid the urge to say negative things about what they have done so far and started your session on a positive note.
Step 3: Explore the area of opportunity
Together with your client, dig deep to understand where the area of opportunity for success lies.
Notice how I said “area” instead of “areas”. That is intentional.
As you conduct your coaching session, resist the urge to bring up multiple issues. While it is okay to talk about them while you and your client summarize your thoughts, the aim is to arrive at what is holding back your client the most. And then break it down so both of you can work on it together in your coaching sessions.
Step 4: Identify and apply the right coaching method
No two clients are the same. And neither will they respond to the same style of coaching as the next. That’s why you need to have many different methods of coaching at your disposal so you can address and help the plethora of different personality types that will walk through your doors.
Before the sessions, think about the personality type and experiences of your client and try to understand where they are coming from.
Unfortunately, deciding what method works best is in your hands. You have to let your knowledge of your client, and of coaching in general, be your guide as you decide what course of action will benefit them best.
Step 5: Keep track of what they are doing
Even the most conscientious client will try to procrastinate if they feel no one is keeping track of what they are doing. It is basic human nature.
After all, talking about yourself and admitting you need to make changes in your behaviour or action is most probably the most difficult thing anyone will do.
So how do you keep track? Well, that’s why I asked you to set concrete, achievable goals right at the beginning. This will be what you measure your client’s progress against. The closer they are to their goals, the better they are performing.
And if it looks like their performance has stagnated, then it’s time to revisit what you discussed and figure out what obstacles are standing in the way.
5 Questions To Ask During Your One-on-One Coaching Sessions
The most common thing most coaches complain about is the inability to accurately gauge how effective their sessions are. Just because you’re meeting a client and creating a roadmap for them doesn’t necessarily mean that their life will instantly get better.
But how do you differentiate between an effective and ineffective session? In my experience, there are a few questions you can ask – yourself and your client – that will keep the focus squarely on what you’re trying to achieve.
These questions will help get right down to the crux of the problem and help both of you better understand where your client is in terms of change.
Question 1: How was last week?
The primary objective of your sessions will vary from client to client and situation to situation. However, I find it best to start each session with this question – “How was last week?”
I understand how this may seem quite simplistic, but the real objective of asking this question is more than just getting an understanding of their week. The actual idea is to start a dialogue with your client and make them comfortable talking about themselves.
By letting your client start the session with everything they’ve experienced and felt in the last week, you avoid taking charge of the session from the get-go. All you need to do is sit back and listen carefully as your client talks.
This will give you insight into your client and their attitude, allowing you to understand what triggers their behaviour. You will understand where their challenges originate, and how they react to failure or adversity. Sooner rather than later, a pattern will surface and you will be able to get a better idea of your client and their needs.
Question 2: In your opinion, what is the problem?
When addressing a particular issue, instead of establishing what the problem is, it is better to first tell your client what you’re seeing, and then ask them what they think the problem is.
It is definitely going to take longer when you go down this road, and I know it is difficult to resist the temptation to tell them the issue when it is right in front of you to see, but it is essential that you do.
You can gather a huge amount of information from this question if you know what you’re looking for. Do they blame others? Do they openly talk about the issue? Are they taking ownership of the problem? Once you’ve reached the crux of the matter, you and your client can then identify the root cause together and create plans for improvement.
Question 3: What are your plans and priority for this week?
After you’re done reviewing what your client has been up to after the last meeting, it is a great segway into what they hope to achieve in the coming week.
As they tell you about their plan, note down important points that will act as your guide at the next meeting. Most importantly, you get an understanding of your client’s ability to plan and prioritize, and if it seems lacking, gives you the chance to correct them wherever you can.
Question 4: What is the one thing that has worked so far, and one thing that hasn’t?
As a coach, it is important to be specific about your client’s achievements as well as their challenges. And as each session goes by, it is easier to lose track of all the different methods and routes you and your client explore to get to their goal.
By asking them this question, you get to the heart of both, achievements and challenges, and understand how to mould your coaching sessions better and guide your client to the desired outcomes.
Question 5: Do you have any feedback for me?
Asking your client for feedback on your sessions is as important as every other question on this list. Be it about the way you conduct your sessions, the way you speak or simply how available you are, by asking your client for feedback, you will better understand your own coaching technique and how effective it is for your client.
Because as we’ve discussed earlier, no two clients are the same. And this feedback will help you understand what’s working and not working for a particular client so you can adapt your sessions to make them more effective towards helping your client.